Tools to Make Great Pizza at Home

If you want to make great pizza at home, you need the right tools for the job.

Fortunately, the list isn’t long or super expensive.  In fact, you can buy the basics for less than the cost of take out from your local hipster pizza joint.

Here’s what you need in order of importance:

The Basics 

1. Scale 

Water, flour, leavening and salt.  These are the building blocks for making great pizza.  Because we are working with so few ingredients, we need to be precise with the quantity of each ingredient in our dough formula.  This is especially true when you’re making pizza at home.   The smaller the batch, the smaller the margin of error.  So, to ensure accuracy we need to weigh out our ingredients.

I don’t care how good you are measuring ingredients with a cup or spoon.  It you want to make awesome pizza you need a scale.

Screw volume.  Focus on weight.  It’s what professional bakers and pizzaiolos do.  You can do it too.

A small digital scale, preferably one that measures in .1 gram units, costs $20.  Buy one.

2. Bench scraper

This is an indispensable tool for anyone who works with dough.  It’s also great for cleaning up.  I like these so much I have two at home.  And I give them as Christmas presents.

3. Cast iron pan

I know you own a pizza stone.  If you absolutely have to use it, go for it.

But here’s the truth about pizza stones:  They are a great trivet.   Or for roasting a chicken.  But when it comes to making great pizza at home a iron pan is much better.

Cast iron has a few clear advantages.

First, the heavy steel absorbs and distributes heat better than stone.  A pizza stone, depending on the thickness, requires a least one hour to preheat.  Cast iron pan? 3-5 minutes on the stovetop over a hot flame.

The second advantage of a cast iron pan is the shape.  The flared sides reflect heat directly on your crust (a.k.a cornicione).  Your flat pizza stone doesn’t.

Added bonus to the flared sides: You can squirt water against them to instantly create steam and achieve an extra crispy crust.

Lastly, a cast iron pan is much easier to handle (provided it has one) and using it to make pizza is just a lot less messy.  Sure, sliding a pizza on to stone deck may impart a sense of authenticity to the whole process, but do you know what doesn’t feel romantic? Cleaning up all of the flour and cornmeal that is required to effectively slide a pie into an oven.

4. Thermometer

Time and temperature are the “secret” ingredients for great pizza.

Unless you are spending time around hard core pizza geeks you won’t read much about temperature in the average home pizza dough recipe.

If you’re just starting out I recommend taking the temperature of your core ingredients.  It only takes 30 seconds and can help you avoid making overblown down.   Or dough that takes forever to rise.

5. Large Wooden Cutting board

Whether it’s for stretching dough or letting my pizza dough balls rest before baking them, I like using a wooden cutting board.  Wood absorbs moisture which can be helpful.  I also like the feel of stretching dough on wood.

6. Heavy Duty Sheet Pan

For making pan pizza or focaccia you will need a good heavy duty sheet pan.  When I say “heavy duty” I mean something that is thick and heavy enough to be used as a weapon if need be.

7. Doughmate Doughboxes

If you plan on making pizza often (you should) investing in professional grade pizza dough proofing trays is a good move.  Fortunately, Doughmate sells trays especially made for the home pizzaiuolo.   These trays are a smaller version of the professional trays used in every pizzeria and designed to fit in your home fridge.  They cost more than you want to pay, but are totally worth it.

8. Dough Docker

Its easy to overlook this handheld medieval looking torture contraption as an essential tool for making grilled pizza.  Sure, a fork can do the same job but this does it so much better.  And faster.  And it only costs $10.


Next Level

1. Good oven. 

There’s no way around this one.  If you have a shitty oven it will be nearly impossible to bake a great pizza. Don’t despair.  You don’t need a 10K Wolf convection oven. A decent oven that can achieve 550 degrees and has a broiler is great. If access to a good oven is not an option but a grill is, go with the grill.

2. Temperature gun

Ok, this item isn’t crucial but it’s extremely helpful.

Prices have also come way down.  Ten years ago a decent “temp gun” cost a few hundred dollars.  Today you can buy one for $50-$70.

A temp gun has become borderline indispensable when I make pizza in a cast iron pan.  By always getting an accurate read of the temperature of my pan I can assure the consistency of my bakes, pie after pie.  Plus, these are just cool to use.

3. Proofing box

If you live in a cold climate as I do, having a proofing box is very helpful.  Especially if you’re working with sourdough starter.  A decent proofing box will cost $170, so not cheap.  But if you’re baking every week, be it pizza or bread, then the investment is worth it.

For McGyver wannabes or those on a tight budget, good news: There are many DIY options on the internet.

4. Grain Mill

Go down the rabbit hole far enough and it won’t be long before you want to mill your own flour.  This will be a pricey habit.  Counter top grain mills start at $300 and can cost as much as a plane ticket to Europe.  You’ve been warned.


Ok, that’s it.

Questions? Having trouble sourcing one of the items above? Think I’m missing something?

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